Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coyote pups and other wildlife

Each day in Yellowstone is an opportunity for wildlife sightings, spectacular scenery, new knowledge of a complex ecosystem, friendships, and adventures. Here are just a few of my wildlife sightings.Coyote pups playing. Their den was near the road and I watched them for a couple of days. Eventually their mother moved them. I don't know if it was that they were big enough and it would have happened anyway, or if it was people leaving the roadside and getting too close. This little bison calf was following its cow which easily stepped over the downed trees. The calf had to work at it, with a couple belly landings along the way.

This male Blue Grouse regularly strutted his stuff at Lake Butte Overlook. Long after mating season should have concluded, to give the chicks time to mature, he was still thumping (a deep sound which seems too large for this chicken sized bird), fanning his tail feathers, pumping up his chest and showing the red chest patches. Even if it was too late to impress females of his species, he impressed me and folks on my tours.

This is a White Pelican photo from last year. I didn't get any good shots this year. The Yellowstone River was swollen with snow melt and I failed to get photos I wanted....more Cutthroat trout jumping the rapids and White Pelicans fishing for them.

On one of my days off I hiked Elephant Back, a peak behind the Lake Lodge views of Yellowstone Lake. This view of the north shore shows where I live. The small light line in the lower portion is the road leading into the employee housing area where I live. You can barely see some bright spots to the left of the road. Those are RVs in the employee RV park. Not a bad place to live!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

bison and cars

This is why I avoid driving in the park at night if at all possible. Luckily the young lady driving is okay. Her airbags deployed and saved her. The bison was not so lucky, although death was instantaneous which was good. The hit head on as you can see by the horn holes in the car. She was not speeding, but even at the 45 limit here, if you come around a corner and the bison is there, you are in trouble.

Bison on the road are not too bad yet. Rut season usually begins in August and then park roads through Hayden and Lamar Valleys resemble LA freeways at rush hour. Except that commuters don't leave their cars, doors open, in the middle of the lane of traffic while they run out to get a photo. Enough to drive us tour drivers and other employees to tear out hair out.

Another, more recent collision killed another bison. The driver of the one-ton pick up and trailer was going over the speed limit.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wedding in the Park

On May 13th, Sandra Berthuis and Doug Hilborn were married on the shore of Yellowstone Lake with immediate family in attendance. Doug is my fellow photo guide. Our third photo guide, Wim, and I were asked to be the photographers. Neither of us is a wedding photographer and were a bit nervous with the assignment but assured ourselves that with two of us, we ought to manage at least some successful shots.


Members of the Lake String Quartet played before and after the ceremony, then the full quartet entertained family in the Lake Hotel Sunroom while Wim and I photographed the bride and groom outside.

I haven't had time to carefully sort through yet, but this is a sample. The weather cooperated. At the time to head down from the hotel we had a brief thundershower and wondered what was going to happen, especially to the string trio who had agreed to play. I loaded the bride and the families into the historic yellow bus and we headed down. We only had to wait a few minutes for the sun to break through. With dark clouds across the Lake and sun on our site, it could not have been better.

Water and more water

Once summer arrived, the snows melted quickly creating the highest water levels in thirty years.

Here are two views of the falls, the first from the south side at Artist Point and the second from the North Rim. The rainbow only lasts for 15 minutes each morning and needs sunshine. It is always a question whether I will get through bison jams to see this event. The photos were taken on two different days off. In past years the rainbow has been narrower and more defined, but this year the volume of spray from the force of all that water falling 308 feet has created a more diffuse look.

This is a year round waterfall, but we have had plenty of seasonal falls this year, the year-round ones are bursting, creeks are overflowing, a couple side roads and the route for the stagecoaches are underwater. I take my guests by a picnic table which has water up over the benches. The table beyond it is totally submerged and not visible.
It is a great year for wildflowers. These edge a geothermal pool, one that isn't super hot, along the north shore of Yellowstone Lake.

I have been doing some work with a macro lens but find I didn't come to Old Faithful, where I have internet connection, with any of those shots on my thumb drive. I will have to add them at a later date.

Water levels don't impact the geysers, whose water comes from subterranean levels filled hundreds of years ago.
This is Pink Dome which I see go off occassionally.